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The new map of France

Provisionally, until the squawking reaches a crescendo.

The Balladur (1) committee has come up with a reworking of the French regions, and care of those nice people at Libé, here it is:

I blogged early thoughts on the matter last year, and I think I am going to give Balladur a C+. I approve strongly of returning Loire Atlantique to the bosom of Brittany, and uniting the Alsatian départements and uniting the two Normadies seems sensible enough too.

On the minus side, Poitou Charente has a better claim to existence than the utterly ersatz Pay de la Loire, although I still have not forgiven the Poitou Charantais for slaughtering my Huguenot forbears. Given that Poitou Charente is Ségolène Royal's fiefdom, I imagine she will be livid. It also seem a little raw on the Auvergne that it is added into Rhones Alpes while the smaller (population and size) Limousin retains an independent existence. Can't say I feel particularly strongly one way or the other about Picardy.

(1) The French for walkman is 'baladeur', so I always visualise him wearing headphones. However, hats of to him for continuing to be active in public life at the age of 79.

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Blogger James Dowden said... 5:32 pm

Very interesting, thanks.

One thing to bear in mind is that the French regions are already very large. The least populous of the mainland regions (Limousin) is more populous than the median Austrian federal land (Tirol). The same holds in terms of land area: the two largest mainland regions (Midi-Pyrenees and Rhone-Alps) are about five times the land area of the average Austrian federal land.

I am inclined to agree with you that the northern part is basically sound. The Picardy split reflects reality -- there is nothing Picard about two-thirds of that region at present, whilst half of the Picards are in NPdC -- although it does have the effect of making the Ile-de-France's already huge population larger still.

Alsace is slightly worrying. Merging the departments may well result in Mulhouse losing out to Strasbourg. And if the Franche Comté's population is too low for it to survive, Belfort should be returned to Alsace, rather than being subsumed into a Greater Burgundy.

At the other side of Greater Burgundy, neither Yonne nor Nievre are really Burgundian. A merger with the Franche Comté should be treated as an opportunity to reunite Yonne with the Champagne region.

Likewise, Rhone-Alps is already excessively large. Far from adding Auvergne, they should be considering creating Savoy as a separate region.

And you make a good point about the Auvergne and Limousin. I wonder what Mr Walkman (I'll never be able to take him seriously again!) had against simply merging them.

Swinging across to the west coast, once Brittany is reunited, Vendee makes no sense in a rump Pays de la Loire. Merging Vendee into Poitou Charentes (it is, after all, an historic part of Poitou) makes Poitou Charentes about as populous as Lorraine -- so there's clearly no justification for its abolition. You're probably spot-on with your suggestion of a political motivation. And Aquitaine really doesn't need to be made any bigger -- it's already the third largest and sixth most populous region.

I'm glad at how little the south has been touched. I suppose it was too much to hope for Rousillion to be removed from Languedoc.

It is fairly clear to this sort of extent where the flaws lie in Mr Walkman's reworking. And it probably means something that they couldn't think of anything better to do with the rump Pays de la Loire and the Centre region (even trying to incorporate Nievre into it too wouldn't make any regional-scale entities any easier to assemble).  

Blogger Croydonian said... 6:08 pm

James - thank you for your thoughtful input. I always fear I am talking to myself when I go off on one of my geographical meanders, so it is pleasing that I am not alone in finding these things interesting.

Brittany is my particular thing as the mother of my children hails from there, while my mother is deep in the Languedoc. The priest I mentioned in my earlier post on this who refuses to accept the exclusion of LA from Brittany was all for resurrecting the divisions based on bishoprics, not out of religious reasons but rather because they represented the divisons of the people based on language, culture and so forth rather than an administrator's pen. As it is, the good people of North / Central Brittany had to put up with the idiotic name of Côtes du Nord for nigh on two centuries, although I do not consider Côtes-d'Armor a huge improvent as that means 'Sea Coast'. Tregor / Sant Brieg would have been an improvement, although I think Morbihan for what was Gwened / Vannes has the virtue of at least using Breton.

Maybe Bayrou can hold out for a rebirth for Béarn....  

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